Here’s something to think about the next time you decide to include “organic” chicken in your meal. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) proposed a rule in the July 14 Federal Register to amend the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National List of Allowed & Prohibited Substances (National List) to extend the use of synthetic methionine in organic poultry production until Oct. 1, 2010. The National Organic Standards Board made the recommendation on May 22, 2008.

DL-methionine, DL-methionine-hydroxyl analog and DL-methionine-hydroxyl analog calcium were originally included on the National List in 2003, and was scheduled for expiration on Oct. 1, 2008. AMS said methionine was petitioned by organic livestock producers as a part of the NOSB’s 1995 initial review of synthetic amino acids considered for use in organic livestock production.

The petitioners asserted that methionine was a necessary dietary supplement for organic poultry, due to an inadequate supply of organic feeds containing sufficient concentrations of naturally occurring methionine (ie stuff chickens normally like to eat – organic whole wheat, organic whole oats, alfalfa meal, sunflower meal, fish meal and limestone). Petitioners suggested synthetic methionine would be fed as a dietary supplement to organic poultry at levels ranging from 0.3 to 0.5% of the animal’s total diet. The petitioners also asserted that a prohibition on the use of synthetic methionine would contribute to nutritional deficiencies in organic poultry thereby jeopardizing the animal’s health.

Read more at: There’s a synthetic in my organic chicken

Two weeks ago Tyson Foods Inc. killed and buried the carcasses of 15,000 hens in northwest Arkansas that tested positive for exposure to a strain of the avian flu that is not harmful to humans, state officials announced.

The affected chickens had antibodies of a mild or low pathogenic strain of bird flu called H7N3.

It is the deadly high pathogenic H5N1 strain, which has never been found in the United States, that worries scientists because it has spread to and killed people around the world.

The deadly H5N1 strain has spread to humans overseas who have been in close contact with infected chickens. So far there have been 376 human cases worldwide including 238 deaths.

A major worry among health experts is the H5N1 strain will mutate into a form that can be transmitted from human to human, raising the threat of a global pandemic that could kill millions.

Jon Fitch, director of the state’s Livestock and Poultry Commission, said routine blood tests conducted on May 30 found the possible exposure. Further tests done by the state and the U.S. Department of Agriculture found the birds did not have active infections, but rather were exposed to a subtype of the disease.

“Even though the affected birds do not currently have the virus, the flock is being depopulated today as a precautionary measure and will not enter the human food chain. While the birds’ exposure to this strain of avian influenza poses no risk to human health, USDA’s policy is to eradicate all H5 and H7 subtypes,” the company, based in Springdale, Arkansas, said in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »

Update: For information on May 3, 2008 recall go to http://fooddemocracy.wordpress.com/2008/05/05/recall-gourmet-boutique-beef-pork-and-poultry-for-possible-listeria-contamination/

USDA News Release, Class I Recall,  Health Risk High

(Class 1 USDA recalls are the most serious and involve a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable probability that eating the food will cause health problems or death.)

Gourmet Boutique, L.L.C., a Jamaica, N.Y., firm, is voluntarily recalling approximately 6,970 pounds of meat and poultry products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced today.

The following products are subject to recall: Read the rest of this entry »

USDA News Release, Class I Recall,  Health Risk High

(Class 1 USDA recalls are the most serious and involve a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable probability that eating the food will cause health problems or death.)

Meijer Distribution Center, a Grand Rapids, Mich. firm, is voluntarily recalling approximately 2,184 pounds of frozen chicken entrées that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has announced.

The following product is subject to recall:

  • 12-ounce packages of “Discover Cuisine ™ Red Curry Chicken & Jasmine Rice.” Each package bears the Canadian establishment number “Est. 302” inside the Canadian Food Inspection Agency mark of inspection as well as a “Best By” date of “12 18 08.” Read the rest of this entry »

With a growing number of consumers switching from red meat to poultry, the chicken and turkey industries are booming. In addition to the expanding U.S market, poultry companies are also benefiting from expanding markets around the world.

Record numbers of chickens and turkeys are being raised and killed for meat in the U.S. every year. Nearly ten billion chickens and half a billion turkeys are hatched in the U.S. annually.

These birds are typically crowded by the thousands into huge, factory-like warehouses where they can barely move. Each chicken is given less than half a square foot of space, while turkeys are each given less than three square feet. Shortly after hatching, both chickens and turkeys have the ends of their beaks cut off, and turkeys also have the ends of their toes clipped off. These mutilations are performed without anesthesia, ostensibly to reduce injuries that result when stressed birds are driven to fighting. Read the rest of this entry »

A startling 83% of the chickens tested in a 2007 Consumer Reports investigation were contaminated with one or both of the leading bacterial causes of food-borne disease — salmonella and campylobacter.

That is up from 49% in 2003, when the group last reported on contamination in chickens.

In their report, “Dirty Birds,” investigators with Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, concluded that  that fewer than one of five birds tested (17%) were free of both pathogens, the lowest percentage of clean birds recorded since the group began testing chickens eight years ago. Read the rest of this entry »

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